That’s right! I wrote about trousers (or pants, if you will), which used to be my arch enemies – but no more. Click the picture above to visit Emma’s clever blog at This Kind Choice.com and read all about it.
posted on: April 8, 2014
posted on: April 6, 2014
My previous blog post on how to style a pixie cut got so much positive feedback, so I thought I’d create another one! Whether you already have a pixie or are thinking about getting one, it’s nice to know there are plenty of styling options available. The starting point for all these styles is a pixie that’s slightly longer in front and around the ears (compared to my previous post), but still very short from the occipital bone to the neck. In my opinion, the ultimate trick to styling a pixie is to think of it as sculpting, creating lines and shapes with the hair. In fact, none of the styles in this post need special accessories or tricky styling tools; I only used a few bobby pins, some hair gel/spray, and a straightening iron that’s one inch wide.
The Audrey no. 1
This is how I tend to style my hair most days now, as it’s quick and works well with my hair. My natural texture is pretty easy to work with; if I blow-dry it, it goes straight and sleek, but if I leave it to air-dry, it has much more texture and soft waves. After a shower I sort-of part it to the side, and scrunch it with my fingers to enhance the texture. When it’s dry, I usually end up creating more waves around my face using the straightener. I finish with a little bit of gel scrunched in there, or a mist of hairspray. If your hair is naturally curly this will be even easier to achieve, and if your hair is quite straight, you’ll just have to curl it more all over to get the same result.
The Audrey no. 2
This one is rather similar to my Emma Watson-style from the other blog post, except it’s slicked back over the ears as well. Some gel and a fine-toothed comb will make this much easier. The fringe/bangs swoop forwards from a deep, straight side part. To get that smooth, even curve in front, you might want to comb and then clip your hair in that shape while it’s wet. You can also use a straightening iron, just clamp it gently on right next to the part, then pull it smoothly sideways across your forehead. This should create a curve, but not a wave with any volume. A bobby pin behind each ear makes it even more sleek, and keeps the hair close to the scalp. Hair that’s slicked back can sometimes end up looking greasy, so finish with some hairspray to keep it in place – this way you won’t have to touch your hair that often, which can make it look dull after a while.
The baby bob
This will only work if your pixie has some length around and behind the ears. Pull it all over your ears, straighten it if you have to, just get as much hair down there as you can. To further the illusion of having “length” to the hair, I create a side parting, let the actual fringe hang down as normal, but pull the hair on top of my head to one side and fasten it with a sneaky little bobby pin. Parted like this, it almost makes it look like your bangs are one length, and the rest of the hair reaches all the way down to your earlobes. Almost. If this hairstyle could be anyone it wanted, it would be Catherine Zeta-Jones as Velma Kelly in Chicago. For that, you really do need longer hair, but a baby bob can be very sassy nonetheless.
The wave is a very soft, feminine way to style a pixie. You can use either a blowdryer (for damp hair) or a straightening iron to create this. The trick is to sculpt the fringe area into a soft wave; it goes up and back from a deep side parting, then curves slightly towards your forehead, before sweeping back and up again. A little texture and whispy bits are nice for this style, so some styling product for separation in the back can be helpful. If your fringe wants to flop forwards, or it’s windy outside, just sneak a bobby pin or two in there, following the curve of the hair so they won’t stick out.
The cover sweep
I named this “the cover sweep” because it’s a hairstyle that’s seen so often in fashion magazines if their model/actress has short-ish hair, or is growing out her hair and is in that awkward in-between length. You can see some version of it it here, here, here, here, here and here, for instance. The caracteristics of this style is that it’s tousled, messy, and all swept back without any visible aid. It looks like you’ll either have to run your hands through it every couple of minutes to make it stay put, or hire an assistant to walk in front of you with a fan. Actually, though, there are many ways to create this and make it stay put. They all start the same way, though: when you’re leaving the shower, slick your hair back, then wrap a towel tightly over it. Starting that backwards movement when hair is dripping wet will make sure it stays that way. Then you can either add strong mousse/gel and blowdry, or just clip it back until it’s dry, and use a straightener to gently wave it backwards. Finish with a strong kind of hairspray, and perhaps a bobby pin or two, just in case.
posted on: April 1, 2014
Guest posts aren’t something I often do here; in fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever done one before! But when Emma from This Kind Choice offered to write something about her own experience with the pixie cut, I knew it would be good. The biggest reason I started writing my own blog was because I struggled to find information about fashion and style that was actually helpful and could teach me something new, instead of the hundreds of articles just telling me to buy more stuff. Emma’s blog falls squarely into the first category, and it has become one of my favourites. She writes insightful and inspiring posts that always make me think, which is so rare nowadays, isn’t it? In her own words: “I want to empower you with satisfying and simple ways of creating a closet that reflects all of who you are. Your values. Your style. Your life.” How wonderful is that! This is her pixie experience, about courage, femininity and commintment.
Cutting your hair reveals more than the fact that you have a great jawline and that you’re wearing a terrible shade of foundation. It reveals how you and others see femininity and more specifically, YOUR femininity. In some ways it’s like changing your diet or choosing who to vote for – really, it should be a personal choice, and yet it can bring out strong opinions in the most unexpected of people. (Especially true when alcohol comes into the mix. Add that to your topics to avoid at dinner parties) It can be divisive and strangely personal.
Short hair is defining and revealing in all senses of the word. This is part of the allure of a pixie crop - the beautiful curve of a bare neck! Ears! – but it can also be off-putting. What to do if you want to join in the fun of bare necks and 60 second drying times, but are afraid of the reactions you will get from others?
Realise that you are sticking your neck out
Short hair is many things, but it is not neutral. Some people absolutely love it, while others write you off as a lesbian before that last strand even hits the hairdressers floor (clearly insulting to people of all sexualities, not to mention ignorant). It’s highly likely that your rate of stranger-compliments will go up, but so will the amount of criticism you get. I have been stopped in nightclubs to be complimented on my hair and asked for hairdresser recommendations on the street. But I have also been called an ‘angry little man’ at a bus stop and told that ‘girls must have hair’ by friends. You will be getting reactions from both ends of the spectrum – relish the good and let go of the bad.
Find ways to redefine your femininity
One of the things so many women are afraid of is that without long hair, they will look like men. Your femininity hinges on so much more than your hairstyle, but nevertheless, this can be unnerving. Simple touches like a bright lipstick or a few nice headbands can give you that added confidence while you adjust to short hair. I found myself sick of the hyper feminine look I had with long blonde hair and my penchant for pink, and cutting it off actually felt very liberating – suddenly there was more edge and interest to my look. Wearing a dress feels like a lovely contrast, rather than an overload of saccharine sweetness. So take this as an excuse to experiment with new shades of lipstick (as if we needed one), and enjoy rather than fear the contrast.
Commit to little and often
Short hair doesn’t require hour long straightening sessions or leave-in conditioners. But you also cannot whip it up into a ponytail or go 5 months without cutting it. In order to love your pixie cut, you need to commit to a small amount of upkeep every day (generally whacking in some matt product for me) and very regular trims.
I cut my hair for me. Yes, there were the photos of short hair that I had been drooling for years. Yes, I loved the silhouette a bare neck created and the play between feminine and masculine. But ultimately, it carved out a different definition of femininity. You can keep your perspective on beauty, my pixie cut said. This is mine.
Before, I had brilliantly blonde hair that came almost halfway down my back, but I felt like it was there for someone else. It belonged to someone else. Travelling through Spain and France where blonde hair is a rarity, the hair got me catcalls, whistling, men following me on buses. Plenty of male attention and constant jealousy from hairdressers, who would run their hands through it and tell me, for the 575th time in my life, how much people paid for this colour (the hairdressers, not the men). I blended in nowhere and was the constant tourist (possibly why the Netherlands or Scandinavia is next on my list of places to travel to. For once, the hair won’t get me questions about where I’m from.) I was always pleasing someone else, without even knowing or considering what pleased me.
Soon after I returned home, I cut my hair. I was aware that this would cut back the amount of attention I received, that the overall reaction would be mixed. But in a way, I was happy to have this screening system – did people notice me or my hair? Did someones definition of beauty rely solely on long locks? The quantity of attention may have gone down, but the quality has definitely improved.
posted on: March 9, 2014
Though I don’t have the skills, patience or lifestyle to have flawless nails, I still like to play with nail polish from time to time. This is another version of the impressionist nails, just with a pink colour palette. The “technique” is easy as pie. Start with a base colour; I used Essie’s Blanc, an opaque white. Put a few drops of each polish on a piece of paper or a paper plate, then use a small brush (I used an old eye shadow brush from H&M) to dab on the colours. If you want a more blended look, dip the brush in a little polish remover, and dot it on the nails to blend. You can also mix a drop of the polish with a drop or two of polish remover, which will make the polish more transparent and create a nice layering effect.
I think this kind of nail art looks especially nice with several kinds of a colour (like my pink), and then an accent colour (like gold). Shades of blue with a dash of copper would look fantastic, or greys with a tiny bit of neon yellow. Very dark and very light colours toghether are harder to blend seamlessly, and will therefore look more like a pattern. Finishing with a top coat makes all the difference, as it smoothes everything out nicely.
posted on: February 23, 2014
One important aspect of clothing that I’m considering more and more, is fit. With that, I mean how a garment hangs on my body, where the seams are placed, and how the lines in the garment work on the lines on my own body. If you haven’t read my blog post about how to dress your proportions, you might want to read it to learn more about proportions and lines in an outfit in general. I wanted to show you my theories in practice, and happened to have two Breton tops and two black midi skirts available. At first glance, these might seem like identical outfits: striped top, black midi skirt, brogues, but the tops and skirts have subtle differences that are important for the fit. Oh, and for the rest of this post, please remember that I mean “better for ME”, not “better” period, as I’m using my own, curvy, hourglass shape and my personal style preferences as an example. This post won’t only be of interest to vintage-loving hourglasses, though, as I’ll describe aspects of fit that are important to all body shapes and styles.
Before we look at the clothes, let’s consider my own starting point. We know I’m a curvy hourglass, with a somewhat large bust, a narrower waist, and then fuller hips. Now, you know I’m not a fan of that “you need clothes that make you look as thin and tall as possible”-idea, so instead, I think about fit in terms of my personal preferences and personal style. I’m a big fan of things vintage-inspired, especially from the 50′s to the early 60′s, so a traditionally feminine silhouette, especially a defined waist, is essential. I also prefer not to let my bust “run the show”, so I want tops that allow for the fullness of it, but that are still fitted in the arms, armhole and underneath the bust. In short, to complement my body, which has curved lines, I look for garments that also have curved lines. If I preferred a modern, more relaxed look to my clothes, I would look for the opposite: straighter lines and perhaps a more spacious cut.
Let’s take a closer look at the clothes, and how the design elements affect the fit on my body (this is a good time to remember my blog post about proportions). When it comes to the tops, the necklines are different, with a pretty straight boatneck to the left, and a curved U to the right. Their shoulder seams are placed differently, with a dropped shoulder seam to the left, and a normal, set in sleeve to the right (this is a good blog post about the difference between the two). If you look carefully, you’ll see that the right top has a dart at the bust. Darts are a way of manipulating the fabric so it becomes more three-dimensional, so the garment can follow the lines of the body. In this case, it gives shape to the bust area. There is enough room for my bust, but the fabric still follows my body down towards the waist without much excess fabric. The top to the left has no darts, and a much straighter, looser fit because of it.
With that in mind, let’s look at the tops again. From the front we can see that the left top makes my bust look more massive, because the neckline is higher. With the dropped shoulder seam, my shoulders look less defined and more droopy. That low a shoulder seam also makes my upper arms look wider. Because the horizontal stripes (yeah, I’m a rebel) run uninterrupted from the outside of one arm to the other, it makes my entire upper body area look wider. There is no definition to my waist, because the cut is so straight. In general, there is more excess fabric all around, which isn’t what I look for in my clothes.
In profile we can really see how much difference a small bust dart can do. Look closely at the area where my arm meets my torso. Can you see how the top to the right looks much cleaner and fitted, that it follows my body? Then look at the picture to the left. The fabric is bunching up and just “lying around”, without really following the lines of my bust. If your bust is large in comparison to your torso and/or arms, you’ve probably encountered this issue many times. If you look at my upper body in general, you’ll notice that the top to the right clearly defines my shape; here is the torso, here is the bust, here is the arm. The left top is different, and merely seems content to say “hey, there is a body in here somewhere, guess which shape it has?”. Which is perfectly fine, if that’s the fit you’re after, but it’s just not right for my personal style.
From the back, you can see the same tendencies. The curved neckline looks softer than the straighter, left one. Because the left one has such a loose, straight fit (on me), there is much pooling fabric in my lower back area, which prevents the feminine silhouette I’m looking for.
As for the skirts, their differences lie in both construction and fabric. When it comes to the shape, the left skirt is cut as a long rectangle, sewn together at the side, and a waistband with elastic to provide shape. The other skirt is basically a 3/4 circle skirt, and closes with a zipper at the back. It has a seam about 20 centimeters from the bottom edge, but it’s not a flounce (“volang” in Norwegian). As it doesn’t affect the fit or give any volume, we won’t pay any more attention that seam in this post. To make the difference in the construction of the skirts clearer to you, I made a little drawing:
To the untrained eye these two skirts can look pretty identical, but they’ll behave behave differently once on a body. The rectangle version will have lots of gathers (“wrinkles” in the fabric”) just below the waistband, and will hang pretty straight from your widest part down. You can see that on me, once the skirt has met the widest part of my hips, it falls straight down. There is just no way to make a rectangle skirt behave like a circle skirt, even if you put a petticoat underneath, because it was cut in a straight shape. There are a million rectangle skirts out there camouflaging as full, 50′s like skirts, but I’ve learnt the hard way that they’re just wannabes. Not that the rectangle skirts don’t have their good qualities, of course, just be aware that if you’re after that 50′s/early 60′s twirly skirt (which I always am), a rectangle one just won’t do.
You can test for the difference quite easily if you can try on the garment. Spin around. If the skirt flares out in something resembling a cone in profile, with the widest part of the skirt being the bottom edge, chances are it’s some kind of a circle skirt. If it looks more like a cylinder, with most of the movement somewhere around the middle, it’s probably cut from a rectangle. If the skirt has an elastic waist, try to carefully stretch it and see which shape the skirt takes on. If it suddenly looks like a rectangle, you know what you’re dealing with.
Another important difference in these skirts, is the fabric. The rectangle skirt (which is the “not so good on me” one, remember?) is made of a thin-to-medium polyester knit, which means it drapes well, has lots of movement, but cannot really hold a shape on its own. The right skirt is also made of polyester, but a thicker, woven kind. The difference between knits and wovens are a topic for a whole other blog post (or you can read this one). In this case, though, when we also consider the thickness of the fabrics, it means the left skirt is more stretchy and relies on my body for shape, whereas the right skirt is stiffer and can create a shape on me.
It’s relatively easy to see what happens with these shapes on my body, once you know what to look for. What I want, is a skirt that is fitted at my waist, then gets fuller and fuller, with the widest part at the bottom of the skirt. The left skirt just can’t do that, and hangs straight down from my hips. In profile, the widest part becomes my tummy and upper part of the derrière, whereas the 3/4 circle skirt continues to widen all the way to the hem. From the back, the left skirt gives me a straight, heavy shape, whereas the right skirt mirrors the curves in my upper body, enhancing the hourglass effect.
If you look extra carefully, you can see that in the left profile picture, my back looks very swayed and my posture looks sloppy in general – but I’m standing exactly the same way in the picture to the right! Isn’t it fascinating how different it looks, when the garments look so similar at first glance? Hopefully this post has inspired you to take a closer look at your own clothes, and their shape on your body. Just remember that there isn’t a standard right or wrong when it comes to clothes and personal style. What you should ask yourself is: do my clothes actually do what you want them to do? Or are they just pretending?
posted on: February 9, 2014
Way back in July 2012 I started a series of blog posts called Defining Style. My goal was to help you readers, and myself, figure out our own personal style in a way that wasn’t decided by fashion magazines or trends, but rather came from our individual preferences. My method can be particularly helpful, I think, to those of us who aren’t easily defined by those labels often used, such as “rock chic” or “bohemian”. I even teach this method to my students at Imageakademiet, because I want them to have as many tools as possible (if you think defining your own style is hard, try having five, not to mention twenty-five, personal shopping clients who all look to you for guidance). The tricky and wonderful thing about personal style, though, is that it is constantly changing. Some stick to a defined “base” more or less their whole life (think Coco Chanel or Frida Kahlo, for instance), whereas others are drawn to completely different style types as the years pass. It doesn’t matter which of these types you are – you might even be so young that it’s too early to see a pattern – as none of them are better or more stylish than the other.
It’s been a while since I first created my three inspirational mood boards (one for clothes/outfits, one for beauty, one for details, remember?), so I wanted to show you my mood boards for 2014. Someone clever out there might notice that I’ve used more photos than the maximum six per board, but let’s not get too hung up on that. What’s also new this year is that I’ve given my mood boards a vertical layout, so I can easily view them on my phone. Ah, the joys of technology! Let’s start with my style inspiration.
What’s different from the last one? Well, firstly, it’s more practical, more vintage-friendly, and a bit more casual than the last one. No matter how much I love the white suit and the floor-length skirt in the previous mood board, they just don’t work with my life. This updated version also focuses much more on fit and silhouette, which seems to be my main focal point this year. What’s super-interesting, though, is that if you read the list of repeated elements I wrote in 2012, pretty much everything on the list is still applicable to my current style. Most changes seem to be related to a better understanding of my body shape and my lifestyle, not to the aesthetics themselves.
As for the details and accessories, well, you know they are my kryptonite; anything more than my signature necklace and a ring or two and I feel like a little girl playing dress-up in my mother’s old stage clothes. So this year, I’ll be trying to understand them better, but also to incorporate more patterns into my wardrobe. I also find collars and necklines an intriguing topic, as they can be problematic for someone with a large bust. That uniboob shall be banished once and for all.
Back in 2012 I still had long hair, so of course the pixie had to be included in my new beauty board. As for the makeup, I tend to have two looks that I slightly adapt to my liking; the first is that 50′s, Audrey/Marilyn thing, with lipstick and strong brows, or I’ll do a 60′s thing where I make my eyes appear as big as possible. My lipstick collection has expanded since 2012 as well – I’d love to show you, but can’t help feeling very self-conscious about putting my Frida Kahlo-like facial hair in front of a macro lens. Am I just being silly? I also decided to include perfume on my beauty board, because I’m so very in love with my Chanel no5 again, and would like to learn more about different scents.
So there we have them! It’s not necessary to create new boards each year, of course, but I love playing around in PhotoShop, and I also felt I had changed so much since last time that an update was only natural. How are you all doing with defining your own style? Is there any area/topic you would like me to write about this year?